The World Economic Forum gets underway this week at Davos, Switzerland. Apparently, OXFAM believes this group is the one that will do something about wealth inequality, the poor, rampant unemployment and corporate subsidies among other ills plaguing our global economy.
OXFAM published a report reiterating what we all know, then offered the uber-wealthy WEF attendees seven recommendations for fixing the problems:
One thing you’ll quickly notice about all seven: none of them speak to the elites’ self interest.
A key element of any sales pitch (and yes, getting the 1 percent to budge is a major sales effort) is to speak the customer’s language. Equally important is to offer something aligned with their self interest. Imagine you’re a sales person. A customer comes into your store. What do you do? Yell at them? Blame them for you not making any sales? Call them names? Threaten to take all their money? Shoot them?
Taking that approach do you think you’ll make a sale? Likely not.
Look. Not to discount hard work the 85 people the OXFAM report calls out, timing and luck played a huge part in how their fortunes were made. They know that. Beneath their bravado and opulent displays they ask themselves the same questions sole survivors of plane crashes and massacres ask.
Gates and Buffet know luck played a big role in their success. I’m sure Zuckerberg knows it too. Perhaps that’s why Gates and Buffet committed to give all their wealth away. Not too sure about Zuckerberg. Trouble is, the significant work their philanthropy funds does little to solve The One Wicked Problem: a system that no longer works well for the majority of us. It doesn’t work well for anyone, as I’m sure Gates, Buffet and the other 85 already know.
While we’d give OXFAM an “A” for showing up to the party, their recommendations are terrible. Why? None of them speak to the self interests the audience OXFAM is addressing.
What does? How about these:
The 85 people OXFAM calls out could do all these things – things which benefit them directly – simply by supporting an alternative that promises to perform far better than Status-Quo economies, not just for the one percent of us, but for everyone. By throwing their weight behind Copiosis, they will make Davos an irrelevancy.
Until the rest of us start speaking their language, the 1 percent aren’t going to lift a finger to change things. Change only happens when it’s in our self-interest. That’s the key to getting them to listen.